Institutional Discrimination on the agenda at Amsterdam seminar FA’s and experts gather to look at exclusion in football18 January 2011

The issue of institutional discrimination in football will be the focus of a seminar taking place this Wednesday (19th January) in Amsterdam.

The seminar, which is being co-hosted by UEFA, with the Dutch Football Association (KNVB), the English Football Association (FA) and the FARE network, will be a first look at the issues of the exclusion of ethnic minorities and women in the game, specifically in the area of coaching and management, and administration.

Audience of football associations
The seminar will be focused towards an audience of football administrators from FA’s across Western Europe with a series of experts including campaigners, MEP’s, representatives of European bodies and academics all sharing their perspectives.

Amongst the speakers will be representatives from the FARE Network, including Carine Bloch of French NGO Licra (League against Racism and Anti-Semitism) and Valeriu Nicolae, of the Bucharest-based Policy Center for Roma and Minorities.

Other speakers will include former Dutch International Midfielder Aaron Winter, campaigning MEP Emine Bozkurt, and Norwegian pioneer Karen Espelund, the first and only woman General Secretary of an FA.

‘Elephant in the room'
“Institutional discrimination is often the elephant in the room, it is not spoken about, when talking about issues of equality in sport,” said Piara Powar, Executive Director of the FARE Network.
“In football it can be seen through the lack of ethnic minorities as top-level coaches or managers at a national or international levels or as administrators at any level. Similarly the absence of women as high level administrators and leaders in the game is inexplicable.
“This is the first time a football governing body has taken the step of looking at the issue of structural discrimination through an event of this kind, it is a welcome step.”

‘Crucial issues’
William Gaillard, advisor to the UEFA president, commented, “UEFA has been for many years at the forefront of the fight against racism and discrimination in sports. Both in the stands and on the pitch, great progress has been accomplished over the years.

“At the same time, this significant progress allows us to begin to tackle other less dramatic but equally crucial issues such as the representation of ethnic minorities and women at all levels of the game,” he added.

“In doing so we are merely echoing what is happening in Europe at the level of both politics and civil society: Football should not fall behind other sectors of European society.”

Research review
A comprehensive research review has been commissioned from Loughborough University (England) for the seminar and will be presented on Wednesday. The review makes the case for action in this area highlighting key problems.